July 2019

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Book Life, Barn Life, My Life!

It’s here! Trouble in Action was a joy to write. Read on for a chance to win an autographed copy in this month’s contest.

What have I been writing?
I completed the first draft of my short story, Trouble in Arms. It’s now in the edit and polish stage. Not my favorite part of the writing process but absolutely necessary. I’ll admit I found writing a short story more difficult than a full-length book. Mine is currently too long so I know I’ll have to cut somewhere. Apparently, I’m not a gal of few words! But it was fun and I’m glad to be a part of this anthology with some amazingly talented writers. I can’t wait to see what they all do with Trouble, our black cat detective who thinks he’s the new Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch style!

While I was writing my short story, I began putting notes on paper for two very different
books. My next Trouble mystery and the third in the Bellamys of Texas series. I can’t say more than that because I don’t know where either is going yet. I’m certain my characters will let me know soon. At least I hope they will. Wish me luck trying to keep the past and the present straight in my mind over the coming months.

I’m sometimes asked, where do you get your ideas? How do you choose your characters? How do you know who they are, what they will be, where they will go? The truth is, every book is a little different.

With Fire Across Texas, my story began with Jeb Wells, Slade’s sidekick in Winds Across Texas. To be honest, I didn’t plan to make him very likeable and – still to be honest – in Katherine Bellamy’s opinion, he wasn’t. At least not entirely. But I fell in love with Jeb and knew he had to have his own story. And so he did. As for Hannah, I didn’t plan to make her funny, but my readers tell me she is and so – they tell me – is Jeb’s reaction to her. So, in the end, Jeb and Hannah wrote their story, their way.

Trouble in Action began with a scene in a bar. I didn’t create the scene. The scene created itself. (See this month’s contest below!) I knew the girl in the bar was broken on the inside which, in turn, made her strong, maybe a bit too strong, on the outside. I started writing with my setting and my mystery well-defined but not my characters. Just that one scene with that one girl that I had to get to know.

What have I been reading?
The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis. I devoured that in twenty-four hours. You can find my
review on Amazon, Bookbub, and Goodreads.

Silent in the Grave (A Lady Julia Grey Mystery Book 1) by Deanna Raybourn! My first
reaction? Why am I just now starting this series??? See my review below.

Book Review

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn has everything a reader could want.

Julia married Edward in good faith only to find him incapable of loving her as a man should his wife. Was it her fault? She’d always wondered.

And why, in the hour of her husband’s seemingly natural but unpleasant and premature death, does private investigator Brisbane insist Edward did not succumb to the family curse of ill health but to murder. And not just murder, but poison!

A very respectable young widow and a slightly less than respectable private investigator are an unlikely pair to solve a murder. And they’re an even more unlikely pair to fall in love. But stranger things have already happened as they discover on their determined quest to bring a murderer to justice.

This was the first in Ms. Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey Mystery series and an excellent beginning.

Contest Time!
As I promised last month – July is contest month! And here it is!

On June 9, 2018, I wrote this on my Facebook timeline:

That moment! Driving home, thinking about anything and nothing, and listening to a
country station. A song catches your attention and, just like that, a scene slides into your
mind and you ‘see’ the beginning of your next story. You don’t know who she is and you don’t know her story but you know it’s there in your mind, waiting to be written. That’s the kind of moment a writer loves.

On June 9, 2019, I shared and updated that Facebook memory:

And a year later her story is written. Trouble in Action! Release date July 8.

I still remember that scene unfolding in my mind just the way I would later write it!

The contest? You have until midnight July 15 to ‘name that song’, the one that inspired my opening scenes for Trouble in Action. A short excerpt is at the bottom of this newsletter. Email your answers to susanytanner@yahoo.com. If multiple subscribers guess correctly, I’ll random draw from that group. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends who might enjoy this contest. Have fun and good luck!

A glimpse of Trouble in Action!
Wolf Stockton leaned against the bar. The beer in his hand had grown warm but he wasn’t there to get drunk. His gaze followed the girl as she twirled slowly across the dance floor and not because she was drop dead gorgeous – not, in truth, because of her looks at all. He watched her because she was a problem waiting to happen and when she became a problem, the problem would become his. He’d rather derail that train than deal with the aftermath of a head-on crash.

In the murky glow of neon, she stood out like moonlight. The sleeveless, white dress hugged her every curve. He didn’t recognize her and Albrecht was his town. She might have come in with the reenactors but she didn’t seem to fit with that crowd. He’d done some studying when he’d first learned what was to befall Albrecht. His research had been somewhat reassuring. Those enthralled with historical reenactments were said to be a serious-minded bunch, going to the same venues year after year, never causing any problem, rarely partying down. The history buffs who attended to watch the painstakingly recreated historical events were categorized the same, at least for the most part. This girl, however, seemed hell-bent on having a grand time and without help from anyone else.

She’d caught his eye when she came through the door, opening the small bag that hung across her shoulder and handing the doorman a handful of crumpled bills. Like the professional he was, the bouncer at the door had counted what was owed into the cashbox then handed the rest back to her, stamping her wrist and shaking his head as she’d moved straight to the dance floor. She’d snagged a glass of wine from the tray of a passing waitress without the server even realizing it was gone. That’s when Wolf Stockton had realized the need to keep an eye on her as, glass in hand, she executed some slow, dreamy dance moves all by her lonesome while couples swept around her. He was relieved when she finished the pilfered wine and placed the empty glass on the corner of a table that also wasn’t hers. At least broken glass wouldn’t be added to the mess when it came. She ignored or never even noticed the startled hey of protest from one of the table’s occupants.

She’d have been trouble enough sober. And she wasn’t sober.

Need more to name that song?
Read the first chapter HERE!

Until August,
Susan Y Tanner